Date:Thursday June 4 2009
Jim Magilton was appointed as manager of Queens Park Rangers yesterday (Wednesday) and it has stirred reaction from both Ipswich and QPR supporters.
Will from Vital Ipswich gives QPR supporters reasons to get behind Magilton as he tracks his time at Portman Road.
When Jim Magilton took of his playing boots for the final time, it was in a dismal performance away to Plymouth Argyle in the summer of 2006. He came on as a 61st minute substitute for a, then young, Owen Garvan - someone who has filled the gap left by Magilton excellently.
Jim was a wonderful footballer, with his play-off hat-trick against Barnsley almost a decade ago epitomising the hunger, passion and desire for the game he loved. If football was his first love, Ipswich Town was his second, and it was always his desire to take up a coaching role at the club upon retiring.
Just days later, it was announced that Joe Royle had parted company with Ipswich by mutual consent, with the club in financial dire straits, and lingering in the bottom half of the Championship table. Magilton, just retired, was itching to get back into football, and cheekily applied for the vacant job.
In hindsight, many Ipswich supporters would argue that it would have been a better long-term for Jim to have learnt his trade behind the scenes at first. However, on June 5, 2006 Ipswich announced that they had appointed Magilton as their new first team manager.
For some, this was greeted with delight, as one of their heroes, and a club legend would be here to stay for a few more seasons, at least. Conversely, there was a large demographic of the Ipswich fan base who were disappointed, seeing Jim as the cheap option in times of crisis.
Indeed, this might give off a sense of de-ja vu to the QPR fans, but Magilton`s closest rival for the job at the time was none other than Colin Calderwood. In the end, Calderwood decided to join his boyhood club Nottingham Forest, promising that he would keep bring back the good times. It was not too be.
Meanwhile, newly appointed Magilton was making waves at Portman Road. A huge turn around in the backroom staff saw the likes of Steve Foley and Steve McCall given behind-the-scenes roles, and the face of Ipswich Town changed.
Alex Bruce was Jim Magilton`s first recruitment to the playing staff, and all the free transfer from Birmingham got off to a slow start as a right back, Magilton converted him to the centre of defence where he has gone on to establish himself as one of the finest in the division - Blackburn, the latest Premier League club to have been linked with a move.
Dan Harding was his second signing, and right from the off, he was a favourite with the fans. His finesse, technique and willingness to get forward saw the fans fall in love with him.
However, it was with Dan Harding that Ipswich fans saw the darker side to Magilton`s man management. Rumours went around with all sorts of explanations, but ultimately, Jim Magilton and Dan Harding fell out big time. Harding went on loan to Southend and Reading, before making it clear that he would not play for Ipswich again. He was released, despite Magilton having already departed.
Jim Magilton`s first season in charge was not spectacular, but it was solid, and saw Ipswich finally shake off the label of 'relegation candidates`. It was a poor start to the season though. Jim seemed to take forever to get off the mark, including an opening day home defeat to Crystal Palace, and a league cup defeat to a then League Two Peterborough.
However, ironically, Jim finally got off the mark when Ipswich visited Loftus Road at the end of August. It was a 3-1 win for Ipswich, and the start of what was to be a magnificent managerial record away to QPR.
Things did get better as the season went on, with one of the highlights being the capture of Francis Jeffers on loan from Premier League outfit, Blackburn. Jeffers netted quite a number of goals, despite a lengthy spell out with an injury. The season finished with a 3-1 win at home to Cardiff, Jeffers getting on the scorecard.
Town had improved on their previous season under Royle, and things were looking brighter. A good pre-season followed, and a 4-1 opening day drubbing of Sheffield Wednesday at Portman Road as the 2007/08 season got under way.
In fact, his home record that season was absolutely sublime. Ipswich only lost once at home throughout the whole season, when Watford pulled off a jammy victory that sparked a great deal of controversy over a couple of refereeing decisions. Indeed, that game also proved to be Veliche Shumulikoski`s home debut, after signing for £1m from Bursaspor.
Actually, that signing was part of a new era at Portman Road. Billionaire, Marcus Evans had just completed his takeover of the club, and was injecting large amounts of cash into the playing budget. Jim had mixed luck with the big money signings. £3m man, David Norris never really recaptured his form from the Plymouth days, although finally - finally - that does now seem to be returning. Gareth McAuley joined for £1.5m from Leicester City last summer - he had a slow start, but overall he has been magnificent this season.
During 2007/08, QPR were one of the sides who were able to take something home from Portman Road. Everyone knows Ipswich won that game 1-0 with one of the most blatantly across the line goals in history - but the referee though otherwise, and the game ended 0-0. It was that refereeing decision that Ipswich fans point to for Ipswich not making the play-offs that season. I point to the ineptitude away from home with indolent performances at Leicester, Hull and Charlton summing that up.
Ipswich finished eighth in the end, leading to a highly optimistic summer in Suffolk. The huge financial backing coupled with the seemingly magnificent management from Jim, looked to be the combination that would catapult Ipswich to the Premier League.
It wasn`t to be. Town`s pre-season tour of Northern Ireland was magnificent, including a 6-0 drubbing of one of the Belfast clubs. The new fixtures were announced, and with Preston as the opening day spectacular at Portman Road. Preston had just come off the back of a poor season, and many Ipswich fans had that down as three points in the bag.
How naļve. Yes, Town were sporting a star studded line-up of Richard Wright, Gareth McAuley and Kevin Lisbie - Ivan Campo soon to follow - but the grit and determination of Preston helped them to come from a goal behind to win the game 2-1. Bad start.
The following week, Ipswich travelled to Turf Moor to meet Burnley. The game`s kick-off was delayed by an hour, when a bloke with a parachute decided to land himself on the roof of the Cricket Ground Stand - but Ipswich went on to thump Burnley 3-0.
It was a mediocre season though, and Ipswich ultimately finished in nineth place - which could have been worse, had Roy Keane not come in to steady ship towards the end of the season. Poor home performances were what cost Ipswich this time around. A 3-0 home drubbing by Southampton, the 3-1 embarrassment at home to Doncaster and the 2-1 failure against Cardiff were just a selection of the bad results.
Away from home things were much better. That 3-0 win at Burnley was nice, but the 1-0 away to Reading was ever so satisfying. But the best result? 3-1 away to QPR!
Hate to rub it in, but the passing an movement for the first goal, followed by the sheer beauty of Pablo Counago`s goal that made it two was wonderful. However, it was goal three that won the Ipswich goal of the season award. Alan Quinn picked up the ball wide left, just inside the QPR half. His cross-field pass was immaculate and Jon Walters` first touch was sensational. Walters` finish was perfect. 3-1, do you remember it?
So, why did Briatore appoint him as the new manager? Well, I like to think it was based upon what he saw on Saturday, 21 February! Ipswich were magnificent that day, and Briatore`s comments are what convinced me that was the game that sold Magilton to him.
Briatore said: 'He did a very good job at Ipswich Town, playing some fine, attacking football, and he has great ambition to achieve in this next chapter of his managerial career. We are all really looking forward to working with him.'
Sounds good, hey? Well, I think so. Just give him a chance. He is a promising young manager, and I cannot think of a more driven, passionate football man. Good luck to him, and I shall look forward to seeing him back at Portman Road next season.
Will from Vital Ipswich
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Date:Thursday June 4 2009
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